Election 2015 Q&A: Torridge MP Cox wants to continue for another term
- Credit: Archant
How long have you been in politics?
Since 2001, when I first stood for Parliament.
Why have you decided to stand for election?
I have put myself forward for re-election as I believe that now, more than ever, our rural and coastal communities need an experienced MP who understands the challenges we face locally and is willing to fight for our interests at a national level.
What are the major issues facing Torridge between 2015-20?
We have made significant progress in this constituency with unemployment falling sharply, the number of apprenticeships increasing and an extra £184 of funding per school pupil secured. The key priority in the next parliament will be protecting our rural services and ensuring our farming families and fishermen get the support they need. I also want to see further investment in local infrastructure, particularly when it comes to our strategic road and rail links.
What would you like to see done to combat these?
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Throughout this last Parliament I have been involved in the Rural Fair Share campaign and I would like to see the funding formula used to allocate funding to local authorities reformed. We have made progress but ensuring that rural areas, where it costs more to run services, receive the same level of funding as urban areas is a simple matter of fairness. I have also called for there to be Secretary of State for Agriculture sitting in the Cabinet, to make sure the concerns of our farmers are heard at the highest level.
How would your party deliver on this for the people of Torridge and West Devon?
If this Government has shown anything then it is that you cannot maintain quality public services, without a strong economy. The Conservative Party has helped get our economy back on its feet and now we need to be looking ahead and planning the strategic investment we need to unlock local potential. The real danger is that we end up with another Labour Government, which is focused on urban areas and that we will face another round of Post Office closures and a cut to our rural education budget which will see us right back where we started.
How much pressure do you think local services will come under should spending cuts continue? Can local authorities cope with these?
In order to ring-fence NHS spending and restore confidence in our economy it has been necessary to reduce wasteful spending and deliver value for money for tax payers. However, the problem relating to the anomaly of small rural councils, county councils and shire councils will not go away. As I have stated in the House of Commons, Torridge and West Devon are facing an existential threat from the cuts that they have faced. In West Devon and in Torridge they have cut, cut and cut again. The have gone far beyond the 40 ways that were announced some time ago. That’s why I believe it is essential that we tackle the problems with the current funding formula. I also think it is about securing other sources of funding like the additional £417,000 grant Torridge District Council received directly from the Government to make improvements to costal resorts.
Do you support or oppose further housing and renewable energy developments in the constituency? Why?
I support further development of affordable housing for local people, where appropriate and where public services can cope with the increased demand. On windfarms I have made my position clear and I don’t want to see the further industrialisation of our countryside.
How confident are you of a successful election campaign for your party, both locally and nationally?
It is a real privilege to be the Member of Parliament for Torridge and West Devon and I would never wish to take the support of local residents for granted. Nationally I very much hope that people will recognise the work the Conservative Party has done in Government to get the deficit down, get people back into work and create growth in our economy.
In one sentence, what would you pledge to offer to the people of Torridge should you be elected?
I will resign as a Member of Parliament if a majority Conservative Government doesn’t deliver an In/Out referendum on our membership of the EU.
Why should people give you their vote?
I have a proven track record working in and for our communities and I want to make sure the progress we have seen over the last five years continues. That means getting more people back into work and creating opportunities for our young people.
What would you say to anyone thinking about not voting in May?
Every vote could make the difference in what looks set to be a close fought election. There is a real choice on offer this time round between a Conservative Government that looks out for the interests of rural communities and a Labour Government that will once again ignore the South West. Don’t leave it up to others to decide.
Away from politics, give us a quirky fact about yourself?
My first job was in a toothpaste factory, appropriately named SS Whites.